How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

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Wondering what to do with all of those green tomatoes? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! A lot of people end up with green tomatoes at the end of the season because their tomatoes didn’t ripen on the vine before the first frost. Luckily, there are a few different ways that you can ripen green tomatoes. In this blog post, we will discuss how to ripen green tomatoes using different methods. We will also answer some common questions about green tomatoes.

Can you eat green tomatoes?

Before we get to the methods for ripening green tomatoes we want to assure you that you can, in fact, safely eat green tomatoes. Green tomatoes are tart and have a slightly crunchy texture, but they are still edible. In fact, green tomatoes can be used in many recipes (click here for our top 10 ways to use green tomatoes).

Will all green tomatoes ripen?

Unfortunately, not all green tomatoes will ripen when brought inside. A general rule of thumb is that the tomato should be about 40 percent grown if it has hope of ripening off the vine. Small, hard green tomatoes that aren’t even close to their finished size will usually not ripen. The best one will be green tomatoes that are a little bit soft when you gently squeeze them.

bushel of green tomatoes
Green tomatoes that are close to full grown, slightly soft, and even showing signs of changing color are your best candidates for ripening indoors.

Three simple methods for ripening green tomatoes

Ripening green tomatoes in a box with newspaper

One way to ripen green tomatoes is by placing them in a box with newspapers. The box traps the heat and creates a warm environment, which will help the tomatoes to ripen. They will ripen best at about 70 degrees. It can help to wrap each tomato in newspaper to ensure that the fruit is not touching. You should start to see a change within a week, but some fruits will ripen faster than others so you will need to watch the process. Check on your tomatoes every day, and remove any rotten ones.

Some folks swear by putting a ripe apple or banana into the box with the tomatoes. This is because ripe fruit gives off ethylene which is the “ripening” gas. You may find that it works for you, but it is not necessary as long as the tomatoes are good candidates for ripening.

Ripening green tomatoes in a paper bag

If you just have a few tomatoes, you can replicate the box method by simply placing them in a paper bag. The brown paper bag will create a warm and humid environment, which will help the tomatoes to ripen. To do this, just place the green tomatoes in a paper bag and fold the top of the bag over.

Don’t put too many tomatoes in a single bag; make sure they have space between them and are not touching. Then, leave the bag on your countertop and check on it every few days. You should start to see some signs of ripening within a week or so.

This tomato was placed on a sunny, warm windowsill for about one week.

Ripening green tomatoes on a sunny windowsill

Another way to ripen green tomatoes is to place them in a sunny spot indoors. It is the warmth, and not the sun itself, that will cause them to ripen. If you have a south-facing window, that would be the best spot for them. Make sure that they are not too close to the heat source, as this could cause them to ripen too quickly and they will not be as flavorful. Also keep them far enough from the window that they won’t freeze if you have a cold spell. Check on your tomatoes regularly. This method can take a little bit longer than the above methods since the heat is not concentrated, but will eventually turn those beautiful tomatoes red.

For more helpful info on growing and cooking with tomatoes, check out these articles!

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.


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